DENVER - The Colorado Republican Committee is grabbing national attention by scrapping its straw poll for GOP presidential candidates in early 2016.
The state GOP's executive committee made the unanimous decision Friday because the Republic National Committee passed a rule that requires state delegates to be bound by preference poll results at the Republican National Convention next July.
State leaders rebelled because, under the rule, delegates who vote for a presidential candidate who drops out of the race would wind up voting for an "empty chair" on the convention floor.
Yet, one critic says the move will diminish the swing state's early role in the Republican presidential nominating contest.
"It takes Colorado completely off the map" in the nomination process, Ryan Call, a former state Republican chairman, told our partners at The Denver Post.
But state party leaders say their move ensures delegates' votes still count at the convention. Colorado Republicans will still hold a state caucus in early February or March of 2016 and elect delegates running on their support for specific presidential candidates. But those delegates will be "unbound" if their candidate withdraws from the race.
"Eliminating the straw poll means the delegates we send to the national convention in Cleveland will be free to choose the candidate they feel can best put America back on a path to prosperity and security," said state GOP Chairman Steve House. "No one wants to see their vote cast for an empty chair, especially not on a stage as big as the national convention's."
And Coloradans will still be coveted swing-state voters.
"Colorado is still a purple state. It's still up for grabs. And it's still a difference-maker when the [general] election is going to be held," said state GOP spokesman Justin Miller, referring to how the state is equally split among Republican, Democrat and independent voters.